Grief and Loss: What To Say

Grief and Loss

 

Watching and supporting a family member or beloved friend experience grief and loss can be difficult.  I know firsthand.  Two people I adore and love are experiencing painful losses, and there have been many times that I wanted to do something to help them, but all I can offer is a listening ear.

There are times we want to help but we don’t want to intrude.  We are at a loss of what to say and unsure of what to do.  Sometimes we do nothing at all because we don’t want to make things worse.   Although we will not be able to take the pain away, we can still listen.  It’s okay to ask them, “do you want to talk?”  If they don’t want to talk, they will let you know.  When you get into those conversations, be sure to avoid responding with these comments:

Instead of “I know” or “I understand” try asking, “how has this been for you?”

The reality is grief and loss is different for every person so you don’t know or understand their unique experience.

Instead of “You must feel _______” try asking, “how do you feel?” or “most people have strong feelings, how has this been for you?”

It’s never helpful to tell people how they feel in any life experiences; this holds true for those experiencing the pain of loss.  Grief is personal and belongs to them.  They may feel a lot of different emotions at one time.  Allow them to name their own feelings.

Instead of “He’s no longer in pain, he’s in a better place”, or “it’s part of God’s plan” try asking, “what memories do you have about___?”  or “what have you been thinking?”

If you try to help them to focus on the good things, it doesn’t allow them to stand in their truth – they are hurting!  Allow them to express their true feelings whatever they may be

Instead of “You should or must get on with your life” try asking, “Have you thought about….?”

First, there are no must’s and should’s in grief.  Second, it’s not your job to solve it.  In fact, you aren’t going to be able to fix it.  Grief is a process and takes time.  If you are concerned for their emotional and mental health, you may try starting with, “have you thought about or considered…?”  In this way, you aren’t telling them what to do; you are only exploring options.

Black History Month

As an African-American, I choose to study the history of ethnic background. I do this throughout the year but even more so during the month of February. Why? Because this month has been titled Black History month. I find it odd that we do not have a Caucasian History Month or a Hispanic History Month etc…. Well I do understand why there is not a Caucasian History Month. Since I can remember being taught history it has always contained Caucasian History. In my experiences it is a rarity to learn the history of a minority group and what individuals from this particular group did to make America a better place. History would have you believe that the only individuals with a history of purpose have been Caucasians.   In my household we learn all history and see how the pieces fit together. During Black History Month we review the well-known African-Americans and their contributions but we also learn about new African-Americans they we may not have heard of or knew very little about. The first person I would like to share is the poet Mr. Paul Laurence Dunbar

In Summer Time

Paul Laurence Dunbar, 18721906

When summer time has come, and all
The world is in the magic thrall
Of perfumed airs that lull each sense
To fits of drowsy indolence;
When skies are deepest blue above,
And flow’rs aflush,—then most I love
To start, while early dews are damp,
And wend my way in woodland tramp
Where forests rustle, tree on tree,
And sing their silent songs to me;
Where pathways meet and pathways part,—
To walk with Nature heart by heart,
Till wearied out at last I lie
Where some sweet stream steals singing by
A mossy bank; where violets vie
In color with the summer sky,—
Or take my rod and line and hook,
And wander to some darkling brook,
Where all day long the willows dream,
And idly droop to kiss the stream,
And there to loll from morn till night—
Unheeding nibble, run, or bite—
Just for the joy of being there
And drinking in the summer air,
The summer sounds, and summer sights,
That set a restless mind to rights
When grief and pain and raging doubt
Of men and creeds have worn it out;
The birds’ song and the water’s drone,
The humming bee’s low monotone,
The murmur of the passing breeze,
And all the sounds akin to these,
That make a man in summer time
Feel only fit for rest and rhyme.
Joy springs all radiant in my breast;
Though pauper poor, than king more blest,
The tide beats in my soul so strong
That happiness breaks forth in song,
And rings aloud the welkin blue
With all the songs I ever knew.
O time of rapture! time of song!
How swiftly glide thy days along
Adown the current of the years,
Above the rocks of grief and tears!
‘Tis wealth enough of joy for me
In summer time to simply be.

Grateful

suicide

As I look at the news and all the posts on Facebook about the tornados on last night, I realize how precious and fleeting life is. The tornados that occurred in Dallas, Garland, Allen, and Desoto Texas on last night were devastating. People lost everything they owned and some even lost their lives. Any time mother nature decides to get upset things can get ugly. It reminded me once again to be grateful. We live in such a fast paced world that it becomes easy to take things for granted. We feel remorse whenever disaters happen to other people but it is never real until it happens to you. Being grateful allows us room to feel and serve even when things are not happening to us. I do not want to imagine what it would feel like to lose everything and right after such wonderful holidays. I hear a lot of people saying ‘those are just material things at least they have their lives’. Though this is true, no one wants to lose EVERYTHING; houses, mementos, memories, clothes, appliances, and etc. Yes these things are replaceable but it can be a long and tedious process that should not be undermined. Having to start over has to be a mental struggle within itself. We can not leave out the mental health of our neighbors as we begin to rebuild. As we walk into the New Year we should keep these people in prayer and if you can, find a non-profit and pitch in, every little bit helps. It is wonderful to keep people in prayers but action is also needed. The biggest lesson that I have learned in this time is that gratefulness is both a mindset and a lifestyle. We have to be eternally grateful because anything can be taken in a heartbeat.

Holiday Fever

Keeping Stress Under Wrap During the Holidays

Keeping Stress Under Wrap During the Holidays

The holidays are my favorite time of the year, or at least Christmas is. I love all things Christmas. Everything from the Christmas music to the gifts. From watching Christmas movies to wearing onesie pajamas. Most importantly though I love the gift giving. It is just something about putting a smile on someone else’s face that just gives me a sense of happiness and satisfaction. I enjoy the decorations as well. I usually put my tree up the day after Thanksgiving and we make it a family event. But what I have noticed is that Christmas has become less about family and giving and more about commercial things. Nobody is excited about the thought behind the gift but rather the gift itself. People could care less about family because they are more worried about the sales on Black Friday. As a Christian sometimes I notice that there are a great deal more Santa Claus displays than there are Nativity Scenes. For my family Christmas is the holiday that we spend at my house as a family and I try to make it a cozy and personal for my family as possible. We drink hot chocolate and sing ‘O come all ye faithful’. We watch feel good movies and make gingerbread. I even make sure everyone only puts the name of the person who will be receiving the present and not the person giving the present. I have found that this cuts down on envy and favoritism. Lastly we do some form of community service as our gift to Jesus. After all it is supposed to be a celebration of His birthday. I guess what I am saying as we enter into the holiday season don’t forget the meaning. Enjoy your holiday!!!!

Does Loyalty Help World Peace?

Faithful

As human we are naturally wired to have a sense of loyalty. Loyalty builds relationships that last for long periods of time. Loyalty also allows us to know who to trust and who to steer clear from. The question I have though, is why dos loyalty have to be so closed minded? For example if I am loyal to couch, can I not be friends or associate with my love seat. This thought came up yesterday while browsing through my time line. It was so many comments about the different disasters in the world. There was a great deal of fighting over what country to be loyal to.

I was saddened because most of the controversy and animosity was coming from my own people- African-Americans. Why as a black women do I have to be more outraged about Kenya than I do about France? Why can’t I be equally compassionate and concerned about all entities? I saw a meme on Facebook that read ‘Black people can care about Paris, the University of Missouri, HBCUS, police brutality, Syria, racial equality, Nigeria, education, and the election all at the same time without losing our “Black Card” It’s not a DAMN contest’.

This is my sentiment exactly. I don’t have to be partial to a crisis because of the race into which I was born. Truth is this planet is not as big as we would like to believe and when these tragedy’s happen they affect us all. I just wanted to touch on this subject because in order to get ahead we will HAVE to ALL come together because today it may be France but tomorrow it could possibly be at the United States front door. We should be so quick to dismiss issues that are global as ‘their problem’; they affect us all.

Social Media the new Communication

social networkingI recently attended an event on social media. We live in a world where social media is pretty much the end all be all. If you do not have some form of social media you are not going to be successful, or at least that is the perception. This particular event was on social media in private practice; this could also be interpreted into social media in business. Social media has taken over in the marketing arena. Even marketers whose livelihood revolves around their ability to sell products are using it as a tool. Social media can get a person’s name out in the world and therefore drum up business. There are many types of social media.

The main ones are as follows: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, WordPress, Pinterest, and especially Google. Social media allows people to meet people on a larger-scale that they probably never would have been able to access without it. It can be an amazing tool with unlimited possibilities. One could market themselves, their business, share big news, or just share thoughts. The internet allows the world to become as small as a city. As amazing as that sounds, social media also has its downfalls. It can leave a person vulnerable. Once something is out there in cyber space there is no way to ever get it back or control it. This is why it is very important to control what you put out there. People are able to go back in cyber space and find all kinds of information and now with the cloud- a backup system of all information, pictures, videos, and texts- available things are even harder to keep private. Though social media can be a wonderful tool….proceed with caution.